- April 2, 2018
- Posted by: Hillary Feder
- Category: Customer Experience
Do your clients see what you want them to see? Or are you falling short in delivering the customer experience that your company’s values, voice, and brand convey? Aligning the customer experience with the brand’s promises is critical for credibility, trust, sales, and client retention. A case in point follows, courtesy of my daughter’s unfortunate experience.
When my daughter stayed home from work a few months ago with her two small children to wait for a repairperson to fix her dishwasher, it didn’t happen. Not for lack of trying by the person who announced himself thusly, but rather my daughter’s cautionary reaction to lack of a single visual affiliation with the company that he said he represented.
In light of social media stories and news about scams and impostors who commit crimes, including repair people, I couldn’t help but agree with her decision to not let him in. Then I swapped my protective mother/grandmother hat for my professional one and asked some questions.
Details matter: client touch points make a big difference
My curious questions quickly led to conclusions that this was a classic case of a client experience that was out of alignment with expectations created by a brand’s lack of brand visuals. Check this out:
- What was the technician wearing?
Jeans and a plain work shirt with no logo or nametag (“kind of scruffy in general,” claimed my daughter).
- What did the self-proclaimed technician’s vehicle look like?
A plain white van (“the kind you see in television news magazine crime exposés,” she said).
- Did he have anything with a company identifier?
Not a single item with an ACME (name changed to protect the innocent) identifier when I greeted him at the door (“including his toolbox, clipboard, pen, work order”).
- Did he offer a business card?
No (“I was so freaked out…I didn’t even ask for one.”).
After my daughter regained her composure, she called the company to inquire whether a repairperson had in fact been sent to her address and who it was. The company verified that the man who came to my daughter’s door was an certified technician. She was relieved to learn that the gentleman (a little verification elevated his stature from “some guy”) was indeed who he said he was.
She just couldn’t forget that picture of the person who showed up not feeling one bit like the customer service person who helped her schedule the appointment or the branded follow-up email she received to acknowledge the appointment and the day-of text to reconfirm date and time. Her relief quickly shifted into annoyance and anger about the worrisome experience and subsequent delay in getting the repair made—all because the company neglected to properly identify the repairman. My guess is that she will poll her friends for another company to turn to in the future.
Takeaways for aligning customer experience with brand promises
- A brand is much more than a logo. It is the amalgamation of messages, interactions, and experiences a client or prospective client has with a company’s products, services and people. Messages offer promises to clients and prospective clients about what they can expect from your company. This story is a classic case of not delivering a comfort level that meets expectations due to brand inconsistency. It points to how critical it is to be clear about your brand and literally wear it proudly – every day and always.
- Each brand has two owners. The company owns 50% and the client/prospect owns 100%. Yes, the correct total is 150%. Your company produces and communicates marketing messages to support your products and services. Your clients and prospects experience those messages via the channels you use to reach them, such as direct mail, social media, the press, website, email, third-party referrals, in- person communication (like a service call), and more. This is one-third or 50% of the branding equation. The other two-thirds is how those messages are perceived (50%) and then actually experienced (50%).
- Consistency is key to a brand that earns trust and client loyalty. Your brand must convey a single, repeated story to ensure it is “heard”. Do your employees—those in internal-facing roles as well as those in client-facing roles—affirm your brand’s messages in look, and feel? If not, your brand is at risk of being dismissed as insincere, unauthentic, and unworthy of customer engagement.
- Success doesn’t allow a brand to rest on its laurels. Vigilance about living your brand protects the equity it has earned as well as the values that bolster it. In addition to a living presence in the marketplace, the brand should support a tangible relationship with your stakeholders.
- Every brand deserves an internal brand champion—a keeper of all things brand related who safeguards the company’s identity by continually reviewing brand guidelines and ensuring they are maintained. The brand champion is a key leader who is responsible for making sure that brand images and messages are presented consistently in the marketplace at every touch point—from business cards to digital media and sales presentations, and signage and presentations at events and trade shows to even how a technician shows up at a client’s home or office for a service call.
Executing brand-centric engagement is a challenge that only a strategically savvy brand super hero can handle. In addition to a deep understanding of the company’s culture and values, the brand champion must have the ear and support of the executive team. He/she has the authority required to enhance the company’s culture and relationship with clients and prospects by ensuring that the brand stays relevant, authentic, engaging, and credible in all representations.
The service company in my story likely didn’t have a brand champion. Nor did they represent their brand through the technician they sent to my daughter’s home. Not sure you are where you want to be, we help companies avoid brand misalignment and enhance their clients’ experiences with their brands. Let us know if you’d like a complimentary consultation. Call me at 800-742-6800 or drop me a note at Hillary@askhillarys.com.
If you have this “locked down” I would love to hear from you about the elements (large or small) that your organization uses to engage with your clients and prospective clients. To share call me at 800-742- 6800 or drop me a note at Hillary@askhillarys.com.